Archive for December, 2013

December 20, 2013

Scareware

scareware by Scott Pollack

Scareware, nowadays included into the class of malware known as FraudTool, comprises several classes of ransomware or scam software with malicious payloads, usually of limited or no benefit, that are sold to consumers via certain unethical marketing practices. The selling approach uses social engineering to cause shock, anxiety, or the perception of a threat, generally directed at an unsuspecting user. Some forms of spyware and adware also use scareware tactics.

A tactic frequently used by criminals involves convincing users that a virus has infected their computer, then suggesting that they download (and pay for) fake antivirus software to remove it. Usually the virus is entirely fictional and the software is non-functional or malware itself. Another approach is to trick users into uninstalling legitimate antivirus software, or disabling their firewall.

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December 19, 2013

Ransomware

ransom

Ransomware comprises a class of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed.

Some forms of ransomware encrypt files on the system’s hard drive (cryptoviral extortion), while some may simply lock the system and display messages intended to coax the user into paying. While initially popular in Russia, the use of ransomware scams has grown internationally.

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December 18, 2013

The Limits of Individual Plasticity

moreau

The Limits of Individual Plasticity‘ is an 1895 essay by science fiction author H.G. Wells offering his theories on the plasticity of animals. He argues that the default biological form of an animal could be altered so radically that it is no longer recognizable and still survive. This could, according to Wells, theoretically be achieved through surgical, or chemical modification. Wells was fully aware that surgical modification is only a physical change, and would not alter an animal’s genetic blueprint. He made note that should an animal be surgically modified, their offspring would most likely retain their parent creature’s original physical form.

These concepts were central to his 1896 science fiction novel, ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau.’ In the book, an Englishman is shipwrecked on a secluded island owned and operated by an eminent British physiologist named Dr. Moreau. Moreau was shunned from the scientific community when his horrific experiments of vivisection were brought to the public spotlight, but continued his work on his private island, where animals are altered with great detail to resemble human beings. They are a defective experiment, as they will revert to their bestial forms after a period of time.

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December 17, 2013

Black Skinhead

black skinhead

Black Skinhead‘ (also stylized as ‘BLKKK SKKKN HEAD’) is a 2013 song by Kanye West, from his sixth studio album ‘Yeezus.’ It was produced by West alongside Daft Punk, Gesaffelstein, Brodinski, Mike Dean, Lupe Fiasco, No ID, Jack Donoghue and Noah Goldstein.

For five months leading up to the single’s announcement, West worked on a music video with photographer Nick Knight. An interactive portion of the video allows users to control the video’s speed down to almost one-sixteenth the normal rate, as well as take screenshots for use in social media platforms. The user’s cursor changes to that of a black hand giving the middle finger when interacting with the video.

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December 16, 2013

The Land of Gorch

favog

The Land of Gorch was a recurring skit in season one of ‘Saturday Night Live’ featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets. It was set on a swampy alien wasteland on an unnamed planet (which was claimed to also be named ‘Gorch’ in one sketch) ruled by the oafish King Ploobis who has different misadventures with his wife Queen Peuta, his right-hand man Scred, his servant Vazh, his son Wisss, and a carved-from-stone deity called The Mighty Favog.

The intro narrated by Don Pardo states: ‘Come with us now from the bubbling tar pits to the sulfurous wasteland, from the rotting forest to the stagnant mud flats, to the Land of Gorch.’ The segments dealt with a number of racy issues ranging from alcohol abuse, adultery, species extinction, drugs, and other ‘adult’ topics, though each was treated with the expected SNL irreverence.

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December 12, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese

mac and cheeze

Macaroni and cheese, called ‘mac and cheese’ (US, Canada, Australia), ‘macaroni pie’ (Caribbean), or ‘macaroni cheese’ (UK, New Zealand) is a dish consisting of cooked macaroni (durum wheat pasta) and cheese, though it can also incorporate other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and a roux (a thickening agent created by cooking wheat flour and fat) such as a bechamel (butter and flour cooked in milk). 

It is possible to make the dish with actual cheese rather than a cheese sauce. It has been suggested that pasta rigati or some other small shell macaroni is an excellent choice for the pasta ingredient due to its ‘pocket’ to hold cheese.

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December 11, 2013

Object Sexuality

i love lamp

Object Sexuality (OS), also called objectophilia, refers to pronounced emotional attachment to inanimate objects. For some, sexual or even close emotional relationships with humans are incomprehensible.

Some object-sexual individuals also often believe in animism (spirits in nonliving things), and sense reciprocation based on the belief that objects have souls, intelligence, and feelings, and are able to communicate. Contrary to sexual fetishism, the object to an OS person is viewed as their partner and not merely as a sexual entity.

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December 10, 2013

Biological Wheel

curl

Rotating locomotion encompasses two distinct modes of locomotion: simple rolling, and spinning relative to a fixed axle or body in the manner of a wheel or propeller. Several organisms move by rolling.

However, despite the integral role that the wheel has played in locomotion of vehicles designed by humans, true wheels do not appear to play any role in the locomotion of biological systems.

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December 9, 2013

Heckler

A heckler is a person who harasses and tries to disconcert others with questions, challenges, or gibes. They are often known to shout disparaging comments at a performance or event, or to interrupt set-piece speeches, with the intent of disturbing performers and/or participants.The term originates from the textile trade, where to heckle was to tease or comb out flax or hemp fibers.

The additional meaning, to interrupt speakers with awkward or embarrassing questions, was added in Scotland, and specifically perhaps in early nineteenth century Dundee, a famously radical town where the hecklers who combed the flax had established a reputation as the most radical and belligerent element in the workforce. In the heckling factory, one heckler would read out the day’s news while the others worked, to the accompaniment of interruptions and furious debate.

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December 7, 2013

Tribalism

Tribalism [trahy-buh-liz-uhm] implies the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates one member of a group from the members of another group. It is a precondition for members of a tribe to possess a strong feeling of identity for a true tribal society to form. While tribal society no longer strictly exists in the western world, tribalism is arguably undiminished. People have postulated that the human brain is hard-wired towards tribalism due to its evolutionary advantages.

Many tribes refer to themselves with their language’s word for ‘people,’ while referring to other, neighboring tribes with various epithets. For example, the term ‘Inuit’ translates as ‘people,’ but they were known to the Ojibwe by a name ‘Eskimo’ translating roughly as ‘eaters of raw meat.’

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December 6, 2013

Black Pete

black pete by Yarek Waszul

Black Pete (‘Zwarte Piet‘) is the companion of Saint Nicholas (‘Sinterklaas,’ from which the English term ‘Santa Claus’ is derived) in the folklore of the Low Countries (primarily Belgium and the Netherlands). Like Santa Claus, Zwarte Piet is a hybrid stock character of pagan origin.

The characters of Zwarte Pieten appear only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas’s feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (generally by boat, having traveled from Madrid, Spain). The tasks of the Zwarte Pieten are mostly to amuse children, and to scatter pepernoten, kruidnoten and strooigoed (special sinterklaas candies) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools, and other places.

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December 5, 2013

Personal Genomics

Personal genomics [jee‐noh-miks] (sequencing and analysis of the genome of an individual) employs several techniques, including single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis chips (typically 0.02% of the genome), or partial or full genome sequencing. Once the genotypes are known, the individual’s genotype can be compared with the published literature to determine likelihood of trait expression and disease risk. 

Automated sequencers have increased the speed and reduced the cost of sequencing, making it possible to offer genetic testing to consumers. 23andMe sells mail order kits for SNP genotyping. The information is stored in a user profile and used to estimate the genetic risk of the consumer for over 240 diseases and conditions, as well as ancestry analysis.

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